By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
The Department of Education (DepEd) has drawn up a comprehensive oral health policy to help improve the health status of all learners by ensuring the effective implementation of a holistic and comprehensive oral health program.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones issue the Implementing Guidelines on the Comprehensive Oral Health Program of the DepEd as contained in DepEd Order No. 33 s. of 2019.
Through the Bureau of Learner Support Services-School Health Division, DepEd will implement a comprehensive oral health program for elementary and high school students in public starting this School Year (SY) 2019-2020 and the subsequent school years in an effort to “concretize directions in oral health services.”
“Oral health is essential to good health and general well being,” said Briones in the implementing guidelines. “It has important implication not only for physical health bit also for one’s social life, emotional health and the viability of one’s career and personal goals,” she added.
Briones noted that the rules and standards prescribed in the newly-issued policy will “uphold the right of learners to basic oral health services.” Likewise, it aims to further improve the oral hygiene knowledge and practices to “reduce the incidence of dental caries among learners through effective dental health service delivery and preventive track of effectively controlling risk behaviors related to diet, hygiene, nutrition, smoking and substance abuse in promoting good oral health and disease prevention.”
DepEd, Briones said, deemed it urgent to draw up a comprehensive oral health policy “in cognizance to improve oral health hygiene and practice” to address the prevalence of other oral health problems that “impacts on the teaching-learning process and affecting overall productivity and performance.”
Briones noted that the newly-issued policy also aims to “improve the health status of all learners by ensuring the effective implementation of a holistic and comprehensives oral health program.” The guidelines, she added, shall cover all learners – from Kindergarten to Grade 12 – in all public schools as well as all DepEd personnel in schools and offices nationwide.
Aside from providing “basic and adequate preventive and curative oral health care: to K to 12 learners and DepEd personnel, the guidelines directs educating and informing learners and personnel on correct oral health and hygiene practices related to unhealthy behaviors.
The set of guidelines also focuses on engaging the active participation of learners in daily tooth brushing activities; upgrading dental personnel’s competencies; updating oral health records; intensifying advocacy among learners and personnel and to maximize the opportunities for an enhanced implementation of oral health program through close collaboration with various partners and stakeholders